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6 Tips for Training your Aggressive Chihuahua

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6 Tips for Training your Aggressive Chihuahua

Our little chis are honestly one of the cutest dog breeds that melt your heart. Not that other breeds are any lesser, but Chihuahuas are an entirely different game.

Despite their tiny stature, they have large personalities. They are bold and stubborn and don’t consider themselves any less strong than large breed dogs.

In our house, Charlie (our 6-pound chi) is the one who tries to boss around Oscar (a full grown Labrador who is more than thrice his size.)

But it doesn’t mean that Chihuahuas are inherently aggressive; how they respond to situations and the habits they develop largely depends on how you train them.

There are times when we unconsciously encourage aggressive behaviors, particularly in small dogs because we treat them differently than our large breeds. However, if you have a pup who has aggression issues or want to prevent these unwanted behaviors in your chi, here are six useful techniques that will help you manage this trait:

The Don’ts of Dealing with Chi Aggression

So usually I begin with offering suggestions but with problems such as aggression, the mistakes you may make while acting out in frustration can worsen your chi’s behavior.

Of course, the responsibility of a new canine member in the house can be overwhelming and that coupled with a snapping and growling dog can be quite challenging since you weren’t expecting it- but remember that it is essential to keep your calm at this time.

Don’t make the mistake of lashing out or yelling on your pup or physically threatening the dog as that may lead the Chihuahua to think that you are fighting for the alpha position. Don’t lock your dog in a room as a punishment; instead use it as an opportunity to correct help him understand the right behaviors.

Socialize your Chihuahua

Many dog-parents may not be aware of the fact that fear is a primary cause of aggression in dogs. They act out when they meet new people or encounter new experiences that they aren’t accustomed to.

Therefore it is crucial to socialize your pup from a young age to help him get over the fear of the unknown. Make sure you take him out and walk him around the block, don’t just carry him yourself.

Instead let your little monster explore the world. Let your Chihuahua meet other dogs, people and ensure that all experiences are positive, so your pup becomes aware of the fact that new sounds and sights are meant to be fun.

Help Your Pup Realize who the Leader is

A common reason behind canine aggression is that Chihuahuas consider themselves the pack leaders and therefore don’t respect and obey your commands.

You might have seen your pup growling when you try to take away a toy or touch his food bowls. This is because they consider it upon themselves as the leader to guard and protect their belongings and gradually the habit may lead to the onset of other aggressive behaviors.

So what might be the solution to this problem? It is teaching your dog who the leader is and how do you claim your leadership? The best way is by using “food.”

As soon as your chi realizes that you are the one who makes the decision of giving out food, he will know who the leader is and will begin respecting your position. To train your dog, make it a habit only of giving out the delicious dog food  after you chi obeys the sit command and waits for his meal.

Build Rules

Dogs need structure in their lives, and for that, you need to set house rules. Don’t let your dog dominate as the habit may gradually turn into aggression. The key is to make a firm decision and stick to it.

You can decide these rules according to your preferences, when the food should be given, what furniture your chi is allowed on, what possessions belong to them, and when is playtime. Be firm and consistent with these rules without being harsh on your dog. Use positive reinforcement techniques to make your dog understand and respect the boundaries.

Training is Essential

Teaching your dog basic commands and cues is necessary. Although this may be difficult with aggressive dogs, which see themselves as the alpha, with consistent effort you will be able to succeed. Even if your chihuahua has already been through obedience training, a recall session each day will still be useful.

Commands such as sit, stay and come are beneficial as these will aid in stopping him from attacking or threatening any stranger. Training your canine to walk on a leash is also crucial as it will help establish you as the alpha and enable your chi to understand how to respond in acceptable ways.

Reward Positive Behavior

Whenever your chi obeys a command or stops growling and snapping over something that he previously used to, praise and reward him with treats. Whenever your dog begins to display aggression, you must command him to stop and when he obeys make it a point to reward your chihuahua with treats.

You may have to act firm when your Chihuahua doesn’t comply to the commands, you don’t have to be too hard on him but be sure to get the message through.


Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.

Friday 5th of April 2024

i have 2 chihuahuas one male and female. the male is the younger one and acts aggressive towards the other and will fight with her but than other times they are pals. if anyone trys to put a collar or lead on him he will bite and throw a fit. i have been laying out a leash on floor and getting him to come up to it for treats and would praise him, but haven't tried to put it on him. both sleep in bed with us and whenever she would move he would start growling and we would stop him but i just am at a loss on what to do, my wife is just wanting to give up on him but i won't. going to vet is hard even with giving him medicine to calm him we still have to get a muzzle on him. i want to try to find a trainer to take him to but haven't found anyone. also with my wife he has recently started being afraid to be around her like in bed if she comes near me he will hurry to get under covers and lay up against my stomach like he does every night in bed

Cathy Bendzunas

Friday 5th of April 2024

It sounds like he needs a dog behaviorist. They help with problem dogs like this.


Wednesday 14th of June 2023

My chi x jack Russell is aggressive towards people ,good with us and our other four dogs ,two Staffies and two Chorkies .but a little devil with other people. Tried to get her attention with treats etc . She is 8 months old we had her at 10 weeks old ,Any suggestions please .

Cathy Bendzunas

Wednesday 14th of June 2023

She needs more socialization. I would recommend puppy classes for her where she will be around different people and dogs.

Rita Long

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

I rescued a five-year-old female Chihuahua, whose original owner passed away in September 2022. This baby, who previously had run of the house, little discipline and was not potty trained, was placed in a dog crate from September 14 until December 30, when she came to live with me. She had extremely limited time outside the crate. Additionally, she has never been outdoors.

Lily was frightened and traumatized. When first released from the crate she went ballistic. Took nearly an hour to capture her. Couldn’t give her freedom in the house because of no potty training. So, built her an indoor run in the living room. She can interact with Mr. Dewey, my other dog and still be contained. Lily is now trained to potty pads. Her diet has been adjusted; she only ate steak with her original owner.

Lily has now been to the vet and started on heartworm and flea and tick meds. I want to introduce her to the outside world. She has bonded with me. Loves to be cuddled. It’s time for training but, she’s very aggressive when I attempt to put on a harness. She growls, attempts to get away and attempts to bite. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit 4.2 lb Lily defeated attempts by two of us to put a harness on her.

Would appreciate any information to help the situation. Want to do my best to help her adjust.


Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

I was going to give you the steps of what to do but this video explains it better than I can. Of course it will probably take you a while to get to the point of where she is okay with the harness but if you work on it every day it will happen. Here's the link to the video:


Saturday 11th of February 2023

Hi, our chi aggressively attacks the TV and it's usually because of an animal, but also people. The other issue for training is he is not food motivated. How should we react when he attacks the TV? Try a sit stay? Thank you, Heidi


Saturday 11th of February 2023

Yes I'd try sit/stay or any distraction. One distraction you can use is fill a small soda can half full with pennies or rocks and tape the top shut. When he starts attacking, shake the can. The noise is a distraction. Is he toy motivated? It's hard when they aren't food motivated.


Sunday 1st of January 2023

I have 2 year old Chi. Brought him home at 5 weeks old. He was a Birthday gift from my Husband. Spends 80 percent of his time with me. He adores my husband. Very loveable to my Husband. Totally ignores me. I can't pet him or put his leash on him. Or even touch my Husband. He growls,shows his teeth,barks.Nips,bites,charges at me. However he can and will love on me. Or want attention from me. When my Husband is here. Only on his terms. When my Husband travels. He listens to me. Is less aggressive.He goes everywhere I go. He won't let anyone near me. Doesn't want want anyone to touch him. When he is out with my Husband. He lets people touch him. And pet him. Doesn't want Anyone to touch my Husband. I can't even kiss my Husband. He tries to bite me. Once my Husband returns home. He is aggressive to me. Please help. He is such a sweet little pup.He is so darn cute.


Sunday 1st of January 2023

This is a typical chihuahua behavior. He is resource-guarding your husband. Normally I would say for you to all the feeding, playing, walking, etc. to get him to bond with you too but it looks like he is bonded with you when your husband isn't there. You may need to see a behaviorist to work this out but here's a video to get you started: